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Pruett reacts to school shutdown extension


By Crystal Burns


On March 25, Governor Bill Lee asked that all Tennessee schools remain closed through April 24, extending the shutdown from the end of March to the last full week in April.

Leaders of all five school districts in Gibson County announced soon thereafter that local schools would follow Lee’s directive. Gibson County Special School District (GCSSD) Director of Schools Eddie Pruett said the extension was expected.

“I knew there was probably going to be an extension of the closure,” Pruett said. “The duration caught me by surprise.”

The district is observing its scheduled spring break this week. In a letter to students, families, and staff, Pruett said leaders would provide more information about how the district would continue educating students after spring break, which ends Friday.

The state legislature has voted to suspend all TNReady and End of Course tests, which would have begun in April. The assessments are used to measure both student success and teacher efficacy.

Pruett said that while the district uses assessments throughout the year “to see where kids are,” he’s pleased that teachers won’t have to take time out of instruction to do testing when students return to school April 27.

Meal service continues

Pruett said the district would continue to provide free meals to all children ages 18 and under on Mondays and Thursdays until school resumes. Children receive three breakfast and three lunch meals on Monday and four breakfast and four lunch meals on Thursday.

Children must be present. Pick-up is available 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at Dyer, Kenton, Rutherford, Spring Hill, Yorkville, and South Gibson County Elementary.

March 16 announcement

Pruett said that on March 16 when Lee first urged all schools in Tennessee to shut down by March 13 to slow the spread of COVID-19, GCSSD faculty and staff quickly pulled together to provide resources for families to use while students are out of school.

“It was all hands on deck,” he said. “It was very rewarding to see that.”

He wants parents to know that school officials from the local level to the state department of education understand the strain closing schools has caused and are ready to extend a lot of grace to everyone involved.

“This is tough,” he said. “It’s a difficult time. We’re seeing things we’ve never seen before. There’s going to be a new normal.”

He encouraged students, employees, and families to read, get outside and exercise, and take time to reflect on “what really matters.”

“Focus on what’s important,” he said.

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